Today in Pa. History: Lincoln University chartered on April 29, 1854


Lincoln University students walk on the Oxford, Pa. school’s campus, April 16, 2003. Chartered in 1854, the nation’s first historically black university, nestled in rolling farmland 50 miles southwest of Philadelphia, has compiled an impressive record of achievement over the past century and a half. (AP Photo/Douglas M. Bovitt)

On April 29th, 1854, Lincoln University, located near Oxford, Pennsylvania, received its charter as “an institution of learning for the scientific, classical and theological education of colored youth of the male sex”, becoming the first degree-granting Black college in the country.

The university was the brainchild of presbyterian minister John Miller Dickey and his wife Sarah Emlen Cresson, both of whom were active in the anti-slavery movement.

Originally named Ashmun Institute, it was renamed Lincoln University in honor of Abraham Lincoln in 1866. In its first hundred years, it graduated about 20% of the African American physicians in the country and more than 10% of its African American attorneys.

In 1953, the university celebrated its 100th anniversary by amending its charter to allow granting of degrees to women.

In 1972, Lincoln University formally associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a state-related co-educational institution.

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